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The Modern Property Owner’s Guide to Investing in Smart Technology

Smart tech investing guide featured

Level M proudly served as a panelist for the webinar Investing in Smart Tech: Practical Guidance for Properties presented by Cox Communities and Parks Associates to discuss how smart apartment solutions set properties apart and boost resident satisfaction.

Key takeaways from the webinar:

  1. Residents’ demand for convenience is catapulting smart tech into the spotlight
  2. Maximize your smart tech investment by starting with the resident experience
  3. Focus on design and match technology to the building’s unique infrastructure
  4. The future of smart tech lies in machine learning and AI

Residents’ demand for convenience is catapulting smart tech into the spotlight

The multifamily market has always been dynamic, but few changes have had as great an impact as the current shift in residents’ demand for convenience.

With more Americans renting than buying, and with remote work at an all-time high, the modern renter’s lifestyle depends on connectivity, high-speed internet access, and tech-powered conveniences. Properties that can deliver those amenities stand out among competitors.

“36% of all apartment renters work from home, while 63% of residents who live in smart apartments work from home.”
— Parks Associates

Although demand for apartments is high — an expensive housing market is leading more Americans than ever to rent — competition is just as steep. As owners and developers work to accommodate residents’ changing preferences and future-proof their assets, those who can pinpoint the right smart tech for their unique buildings will maintain a competitive advantage.

“Smart technology increases apartment resident satisfaction from 66% to 83%.”
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Maximize your smart tech investment by starting with the resident experience

Smart technology in multifamily refers to the devices and platforms that bring convenience and comfort to residents while streamlining operations for staff, from locks you control with your smartphone to sensors that alert you before a problem occurs.

Implementing smart apartment technology generally creates two new revenue opportunities: operational efficiencies and new revenue streams. Ultimately, revenue opportunities differ from property to property.

“The average smart apartment brings in an extra $72/month per unit compared to apartments without property-provided tech.”
— Parks Associates

Lead with a value creation mindset

Avoid leading with a monetization mindset and put your focus on value creation. “If you create enough value, residents are willing to pay more overall and live there longer,” panelist Keagan Huerta, Executive Vice President of Asset Management at Sunroad Enterprises, points out.

Prioritize simplicity and ease of use

Systems must be user-friendly for all users, from residents to property staff. Residents and staff will bypass technology if it’s not easy and intuitive to use.

Additionally, choose vendors who provide thorough onboarding, ample training, and ongoing support even after deployment to ensure that staff and residents get the most out of the technology.

Go beyond the unit

Focus on bigger-picture deployments that improve a resident’s experience throughout the building, not just in their unit.

For example, building-wide access control is a great way to maximize your value. When you empower everyday visitors — from dog walkers and delivery drivers to family members and maintenance staff — to securely and effortlessly access the property, you impactfully streamline operations.

Focus on design and match technology to the building’s unique infrastructure

“Too often,” Ned Murphy, General Manager at Level M, says, “the conversation focuses solely on the technology, not how the property and technology come together with a design that meets owners’ objectives.”

Ultimately, technology should create a seamless experience for the end users: residents and on-site staff. And for property staff, successfully implemented smart tech means no complaints for residents. Simply put: Things need to work as intended.

The future of smart tech lies in machine learning & AI

As moderator Jennifer Kent puts it, the first wave of smart tech is focused on initial connections and convenience. Moving forward, the second wave will hone in on intelligence.

Capitalize on machine learning and AI

Once tech systems are in place, the next step is to take advantage of the data they provide. AI can read that data to set up automations that may prevent damage and further streamline operations.

Maintain quality and reliability

The future of great apartment technology is consistency. Without reliable systems, residents will lose faith and bypass the technology. Plus, unreliable technology eliminates the potential benefits of aforementioned machine learning and AI.

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